Revisiting the gaming press of yesteryear - a museum of magazines

Discussion in 'Console Gaming' started by Arwin, Aug 29, 2008.

  1. Arwin

    Arwin Now Officially a Top 10 Poster
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    The other day my wife received the latest issue of her favorite (consumer) magazine in the mail, and that started me off reminiscing about that once, a long, long time ago, I also knew the joy of receiving the latest issue of my favorite magazine on the doormat. I've never stopped thinking about this magazine either - each time the discussion about well-written and thought out reviews pops up, so does this magazine.

    A few of the magazine's absolute highlights coincided with some absolute highlights in the history of gaming, but particularly of the era.

    - The review system, which used a whopping 1000 point system (eat that, EGM), with separate 1-10 indicaters for graphics, audio, IQ and fun factor.
    - Sported the fantastic PIC: the Predicted Interest Curve
    - Separate Awards for Sound, Graphics, Idea, and Trailblazer (must buy)
    - Ace Benchmarks (best of genre, updated each issue)
    - Fabulous looking 6 page reviews of key titles
    - Reviews always of games as released to retail
    - Actively stated policy of comparing a game to best of genre to give a player a solid frame of reference for any new title

    For me, the magazine peaked together with the 16-bit era, with issues 51 and onwards (not coincidentally this was during the holiday season). Additionally, it just looked absolutely beautiful. Just look at the overview page of this one issue, issue 52 (January 1992):

    http://amr.abime.net/issue_1215_pages

    You should notice immediately from that page that the six page reviews had a fantastically beautiful layout. And they didn't just look good - they successfully conveyed the amazing design and graphical innovations of the games of that era. Just look at the titles reviewed in issue 52: Another World and Populous 2 are classics (Populous 2 probably my all-time favorite game ever, and it fittingly received a score 985 ;) ) and have very distinctive graphics, but even Epic was pretty amazing for the time (trailblazing 3D graphics) and the other big reviews are of Wolfchild, First Samurai and Eye of the Beholder 2.

    The benchmarked games of that issue - well, the next one, as they didn't have space for it in issue 52 apparently - show that this was a great era for gaming (each title followed by its category in brackets). SWIV (Arcade Blast), Gods (Arcade Adventure), Eye of the Beholder (Role Playing Games), Kick Off 2 (Sports Arcade), Civlisation (Strategy), The Secret of Monkey Island (Adventure), Formula 1 Grand Prix (Racing Simulation), IK+ (Beat Em Up), Stunt Car Racer (Racing Game), Jimmy White Whirlwind Snooker (Sports Simulation), Chuck Yeager's Air Combat (Simulation), Mega lo Mania (Action Strategy), Tetris (Puzzle), and Super Mario World (Platform / Gameboy version). Many of these titles were recent releases too, highlighting the strength of games released in that era.

    Of note to me personally also is that in Europe, this was the time where consoles were still not significant, and only just starting to make their way (back) up, as is reflected in the very small section dedicated to console titles. Also of note is the presence of PC. I think the PC was smaller for games in this area than it is today - the Amiga and Atari ST back then took very similar positions to the PS3 and 360 now, but in this era many titles released on PS3 and 360 also make it to PC, which was much less common back then. And finally of course, the heated battle between two very similar systems, the Atari ST and the Commodore Amiga, surely and strongly bring to mind the current battle between the PS3 and 360, but without the Wii factor.

    For me, the early nineties were a high-point in gaming history, and ACE magazine captured that high-point like no other - I see that now even more clearly then I saw it then (I didn't have as much historical perspective when I was 15, never mind the history of gaming being infinitely shorter). Right now, progress and innovation in gaming at the very least seems to be going slower than it did back then, taking a back-seat to technology and big budgets. However, part of this is just typical of the first years of a new technological cycle - the peak years will be coming towards its end. Here's hoping PSN, WiiWare and Live Arcade will help bring back the innovation, and it will inspire the birth of a review site (magazine today doesn't seem as likely ;) ) that can capture those days of glory as well as ACE magazine did.

    And sport as good of a review system.
     
  2. Shifty Geezer

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    It's an interesting topic, how ye olde reviews compared to the modern stuff. I can't remember at all though what sort of detail they went into. CU Amiga and Amiga Format I remember as paralleling Eurogamer in tone, but I might be remembering wrongly. There were also other, more 'tabloid', mags. There was one mag a I remember that gave a moniker for it's 1 to 10 score. PDG was 7/10 IIRC. This was probably better than the 1/10 we have commonly now because they actually used the scope. You couldn't award a 7/10 to a rather poor game because the label said otherwise.

    Oooh, that whole website is all the mags. Might be worth digging up a few reviews across mags of the same game(s) to compare.

    Edit : That is an awesome website; a virtual library of historical reference! I recognise some of the covers still...
     
  3. Arwin

    Arwin Now Officially a Top 10 Poster
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    Wow! Nobody else cares! *snif*

    Actually, it explains a lot about why so many great and classic games are overlooked - there's a lot of inspiration to be had from them to create a modern Live/PSN game. Obviously very few are looking (Super Stardust being a rare exception apparently)
     
  4. Florin

    Florin Merrily dodgy
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    Well, to be quite brutally honest, I don't even know Ace magazine. Sorry :)

    But if nothing else, this topic has me googling to reread some of my own fave articles from long gone magazines such as Compute!, Electronic Games, Computer and Video Games, Antic, Analog and Byte.
     
  5. Shifty Geezer

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    The title wouldn't lead people to visit the site that has a lot of Amiga mags. Maybe the lack of interest is due to inappropriate marketing? ;)

    Edit : I'll change the title and see if anyone else pays it a visit.
     
  6. Arwin

    Arwin Now Officially a Top 10 Poster
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    The idea was to get you to look at ACE magazine ... I was already assuming most people don't know it. ;) If I could just get people to read its Populous 2 review for instance, that would already make me very happy. Maybe I should just rehost the images and post them in here.

    In my ideal world that would then lead to some discussing of 16 bit gaming era and reviews in magazines of old versus reviews on the web today.

    Hey, I can dream, right? ;)
     
  7. Gerry

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    Well, since you're looking for a bit of nostalgia (and I appreciate that this is only going to resonate with the Brits on here) here's a link to an online version of Crash magazine from the 80's - one of the most important ZX Spectrum magazines.

    Crash Magazine Online
     
  8. eastmen

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    Back in the day before the interent magazines were better because you couldn't get info any otherway. Now they have to fight for exclusives with internet publications and so we get articles way in advance that are poorly writen or have just flat out wrong information.
     
  9. Colonel

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    If U.S. magazines would take a page from Japan magazines like famusti or however its spelled and but out a weekly one then maybe just maybe they could stay afloat. p.s. I dont know if the japan put out weekly magazines anymore but back in the day they did.
     
  10. -tkf-

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    Zzap was 8bit to start with and turned 16bit but never made it.

    I used to read it from A to Z and it really sold the games with it´s review. Most gaming mags did back then.

    Thanks for the thread
     
  11. Arwin

    Arwin Now Officially a Top 10 Poster
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    What sealed the deal for me originally was the video reviews. Seeing a game in action conveys the game so much better to me.

    Now however I find it interesting to compare the best I can get online with the best reviews I've ever read, which in my case are pretty much the ACE reviews, of Populous 2, or Geoff Crammond's F1 Grand Prix (played both on Atari ST in my case), etc. So I find it interesting to look back at those, and of the things that strike me now is the attention to detail in the writing, the scoring and the layout of the magazine.

    But a half-decent video review can probably still beat it. Which is interesting, but it may well depend on my own experience with games partly.
     
  12. rabidrabbit

    rabidrabbit A Reformed Member
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    I think I have piles of old ACE, Zzapp64, C&VG, Amiga Format, The One and CU Amiga somewhere in my parent's attic. I used to buy almost every issue of the above mags back then, spent almost al my money on them :roll:
     
  13. Rangers

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    Yep, I'm old enough to remember being a gaming junkie, yet having no internet (internet didnt really exist back then obviously.

    The only major up to date source of info was mags.

    Sort of OT to this thread I guess, but:

    I remember scouring the local grocery store for the newest copy of EGM, VG&CE, and then Gamefan, as well as a few minor others. I would get so excited just to see a brand new EGM. And I remember EGM^2, EGM's ill fated attempt at going bi- (twice) monthly, was a huge deal to me.
     
  14. Colonel

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    I remember seeing the first egm 2 mag at a store and wanting it. I would have the first b/c I colloect magazines and having the first was like bragging right when you went to school and everybody wanted to see what new codes would be in it. I do though still have the biggest egm they put out with over 350 pages or something like that. I have stack's of old mag's from the 90's
     
  15. NERO

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    I remember it as if it were yesterday. I subscribed to Nintendo Power via a coupon in Nintendo Cereal. I've been subscribing to game mags ever since. I went from Nintendo Power for a few years, to GamePro, to EGM which I still subscribe to now. I give family members EGM subscriptions as gifts.

    Mags aren't nearly as relevant as they were (obviously) due to the net, but out of pure nostalgia - and the fact that EGM still manages exclusive content - I still look forward to my monthly mag as a minor diversion to busy times.
     
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